Canadian Patents Database / Patent 2917948 Summary

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(12) Patent Application: (11) CA 2917948
(54) English Title: INTERNET STREAMING CONTENT DELIVERY SYSTEM AND METHOD, AND ADVERTISING DELIVERY METHOD THEREFOR
(54) French Title: SYSTEME DE FOURNITURE DE CONTENU EN STREAMING SUR INTERNET ET PROCEDE DE FOURNITURE DE PUBLICITES CORRESPONDANT
(51) International Patent Classification (IPC):
  • H04N 21/258 (2011.01)
  • H04N 21/2547 (2011.01)
  • H04N 21/643 (2011.01)
  • G06Q 30/02 (2012.01)
(72) Inventors :
  • LALIBERTE, BENOIT (Canada)
(73) Owners :
  • INVESTEL CAPITAL CORPORATION (Canada)
(71) Applicants :
  • INVESTEL CAPITAL CORPORATION (Canada)
(74) Agent:
(74) Associate agent:
(45) Issued:
(86) PCT Filing Date: 2014-07-02
(87) Open to Public Inspection: 2015-01-15
(30) Availability of licence: N/A
(30) Language of filing: English

(30) Application Priority Data:
Application No. Country/Territory Date
61/845,566 United States of America 2013-07-12

English Abstract

Described are various embodiments of a system and method in which advertising content may be delivered embedded within streaming programming contents over Internet, to be selectively viewed concurrently therewith by subscribers in exchange for compensation. For example, compensation may be provided in the form of a subscription fee reduction, wherein incrementally accumulated ad viewing credits can be applied against a subscriber's next invoice or statement.


French Abstract

L'invention concerne différents modes de réalisation d'un système et d'un procédé dans lesquels un contenu publicitaire peut être délivré en étant intégré dans des contenus de programmation en streaming sur Internet, pour être visualisé de manière sélective simultanément avec ceux-ci par les abonnés en échange d'une compensation. Par exemple, la compensation peut être fournie sous la forme d'une réduction des frais d'abonnement, où des crédits de visualisation de publicités cumulés de façon incrémentielle peuvent être appliqués sur la prochaine facture ou le prochain relevé de l'abonné.


Note: Claims are shown in the official language in which they were submitted.

CLAIMS
What is claimed is:
1. A method for delivering advertising content over an Internet streaming
content
delivery system, the method comprising:
providing subscribers selective access, via a subscriber terminal, to
programming
content over an IP network in either of an original programming content stream
and an
embedded advertising programming content stream;
receiving, from a given subscriber terminal, remote selection of given
programming content in either of said original programming content stream and
said
embedded advertising programming content stream;
in response to said remote selection being for said original programming
content
stream, streaming said given programming content to said given subscriber
terminal in
original format;
in response to said remote selection being for said embedded advertising
programming stream, streaming said given programming content to said given
subscriber
terminal in an embedded format, wherein the advertising content is embedded
with said
given programming content to be viewed streaming concurrently therewith;
tracking viewing by said given subscriber of said embedded advertising
programming stream over time; and
incrementally allocating compensation credits to an account of said given
subscriber as a function of said tracked viewing.
2. The method of claim 1, further comprising:
incrementally drawing advertising revenue from one or more advertiser accounts

associated with said embedded advertising content as a function of said
tracked viewing
time.
3. The method of claim 1 or claim 2, wherein said streaming comprises
unicast
broadcasting of said given programming content, and wherein said tracking
comprises

19

tracking a unicast broadcasting stream pushed to an IP address of said given
subscriber
terminal.
4. The method of any one of claims 1 to 3, wherein said embedded
advertising
programming stream and said original programming stream are associated with
respective streaming content channels recognizably associated with one another
to
facilitate selection of one or the other by said given subscriber upon seeking
access to
said given programming content.
5. The method of any one of claims 1 to 4, wherein said embedded format
comprises
a split-screen format.
6. The method of claim 5, wherein said split-screen format comprises at
least one of
a static advertisement frame and a rolling advertisement frame.
7. The method of any one of claims 1 to 6, wherein said embedded
advertising
programming stream is selected from two or more such streams based on at least
one of a
geographic area and demographics of the subscriber.
8. The method of claim 1, wherein said tracking comprises tracking discrete
viewing
time segments of duration lesser than a programming content duration, and
wherein said
allocating comprises allocating a fixed compensation credit for each of said
viewing time
segments.
9. The method of claim 1, wherein said compensation credit comprises a
subscription fee credit to be applied against subscription fees of said given
subscriber.
10. The method of claim 1, further comprising periodically monetarily
compensating
said given subscriber as a function of said allocated compensation credits.


11. An IPTV system for delivering streaming content over a communication
network
for consumption by a plurality of subscribers via respective subscriber
devices, the
system comprising:
a plurality of set top boxes each operable to interface with a respective
subscriber
device;
a content management interface rendered via said set top boxes on each said
respective subscriber device and providing subscribers selective access to
programming
content over the network in either of an original programming content stream
and an
embedded advertising programming content stream;
a streaming server communicatively linked to said content management interface

to receive a given subscriber selection from a given set top box, and stream a
selected
programming content thereto in a selected one of said original programming
content
stream and said embedded advertising programming content stream in response
thereto;
an encoder embedding advertising content with said selected programming
content prior to streaming by said streaming server to said given set top box,
said
embedded advertising encoded to be viewed streaming concurrently with said
selected
programming content;
an account management system tracking broadcast of said embedded stream to
said given set top box and allocating incremental subscriber credits to said
given
subscriber as a function thereof.
12. The system of claim 11, wherein each of the subscribers is accountable
for paying
subscription fees to access the streaming content over the communication
network, and
wherein said subscriber credits are automatically applied to incrementally
offset those
fees.
13. The system of claim 11, wherein said streaming server comprises a
unicast
broadcasting server, and wherein said account management system tracks
streaming
content pushed to an IP address associated with said given set top box.
14. An Internet streaming content delivery system comprising:
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means for providing users selective access, via a user terminal, to
programming
content over an IP network in either of an original programming content stream
and an
embedded advertising programming content stream;
means for receiving, from a given user terminal, remote selection of given
programming content in either of said original programming content stream and
said
embedded advertising programming content stream;
means for streaming said given programming content to said given user terminal

in an embedded format in response to said remote selection being for said
embedded
advertising programming stream;
means for embedding advertising content with said given programming content to

be viewed streaming concurrently therewith via said given user terminal;
means for tracking said streaming in said embedded format over time to said
given user terminal; and
means for incrementally allocating user credits to a user of said given user
terminal as a function of said tracked viewing.
15. The system of claim 14, consisting of an IPTV system, wherein said
means for
streaming comprises a unicast broadcasting means, and wherein said means for
tracking
comprises means for tracking streaming content pushed to an IP address of said
user
terminal.
16. A computer-readable medium having statements and instructions stored
thereon
for implementation by a processor of a computing system to manage delivery of
advertising content over an Internet streaming content delivery system by:
providing subscribers selective access, via a subscriber terminal, to
programming
content over an lP network in either of an original programming content stream
and an
embedded advertising programming content stream;
receiving, from a given subscriber terminal, remote selection of given
programming content in either of said original programming content stream and
said
embedded advertising programming content stream;
22

in response to said remote selection being for said original programming
content
stream, commanding streaming of said given programming content to said given
subscriber terminal in original format;
in response to said remote selection being for said embedded advertising
programming stream, commanding streaming of said given programming content to
said
given subscriber terminal in an embedded format, wherein the advertising
content is
embedded with said given programming content to be viewed streaming
concurrently
therewith;
tracking viewing by said given subscriber of said embedded advertising
programming stream over time; and
incrementally allocating compensation credits to an account of said given
subscriber as a function of said tracked viewing.
17. The computer-readable medium of claim 16, wherein said embedded
advertising
programming stream is selected from two or more such streams based on at least
one of a
geographic area and demographics of the subscriber.
18. The computer-readable medium of claim 16, wherein said tracking
comprises
tracking discrete viewing time segments of duration lesser than a programming
content
duration, and wherein said allocating comprises allocating a fixed
compensation credit
for each of said viewing time segments.
19. The computer-readable medium of claim 16, wherein said compensation
credit
comprises a subscription fee credit to be applied against subscription fees of
said given
subscriber.
20. The computer-readable medium of claim 16, further comprising
periodically
monetarily compensating said given subscriber as a function of said allocated
compensation credits.
21. An Internet streaming content delivery system comprising:
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a user interface to be rendered on a user terminal in providing users
selective
access to programming content over an IP network in either of an original
programming
content stream and an embedded advertising programming content stream;
an access management server in communication with said user interface to
receive, from a given user terminal, remote selection of given programming
content in
either of said original programming content stream and said embedded
advertising
programming content stream;
one or more streaming servers streaming said given programming content to said

given user terminal in an embedded format in response to said remote selection
being for
said embedded advertising programming stream;
one or more encoders operatively coupled to said one or more streaming servers

to embed advertising content with said given programming content to be viewed
streaming concurrently therewith via said given user terminal;
a view tracker to track said streaming in said embedded format over time to
said
given user terminal; and
a user account interface to said tracker to incrementally allocate user
credits to a
user of said given user terminal as a function of said tracked viewing.
22. The
system of claim 21, consisting of an IPTV system, wherein said one or more
streaming servers comprise a unicast broadcasting system, and wherein said
view tracker
tracks streaming content pushed to an IP address of said user terminal by said
unicast
broadcasting system.
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Note: Descriptions are shown in the official language in which they were submitted.

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INTERNET STREAMING CONTENT DELIVERY SYSTEM AND METHOD, AND
ADVERTISING DELIVERY METHOD THEREFOR
FIELD OF THE DISCLOSURE
[0001]
The present disclosure relates to Internet streaming content delivery, such as
via WebTV and Internet Protocol TV (IPTV) systems, and, in particular, to an
Internet
streaming content delivery system and method, and advertising delivery method
therefor.
BACKGROUND
[0002]
Internet Protocol Television (IPTV) broadcasting systems are becoming
increasingly popular, delivering multimedia (e.g. audio/visual) content to
subscribers
around the globe via an Internet connection. In general, IPTV is a system
through which
television services are delivered using the Internet protocol suite over a
packet-switched
network such as the Internet, instead of being delivered through traditional
terrestrial,
satellite signal, and cable television formats. Using this format, greater
flexibility and
interactivity may be provided to users as compared to traditional television
broadcasting
techniques. Similar system architectures are also used to provide WebTV
services, for
example over an Internet connection to a user's personal computer (PC) or
wireless
device.
[0003]
Different services may include, but are not limited to, live television
broadcast, time-shifted broadcasts, and video-on-demand (VOD) broadcast, each
service
delivering streaming multimedia content along with, in some examples,
interactive
features and/or functions, across an access agnostic, packet switched network
that
employs the IP protocol to transport the audio, video and control signals.
Subscriber-
based IPTV models generally employ telecommunications networks with high-speed

access channels into end-user premises via set-top boxes (STB) or other
customer-
premises equipment, i.e. such as IPTV-ready televisual equipment. Customers,
at their
end, will generally pay a subscription fee for the service they receive, which
may vary on
the amount or variety of content they may wish to access, different service
packages, and
the like.

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[0004] As
with traditional television broadcasting systems, advertising plays an
important role in the economics of IPTV broadcasting, and generally takes the
form of
traditional audio/visual advertisements or ads nested periodically between
segments of
selected programing to be viewed by end users.
[0005] The provision of Internet-based broadcasting has opened the door to
new
concepts and flexibilities in content delivery, advertising and subscription
packages. For
example, in US Patent Application Publication No. 2013/0117783, pay-per-view
programming is delivered to an IPTV or personal computer (PC) for a fee,
unless a
customer has previously consented to viewing advertising materials, in which
case the
programming is delivered free of charge and selected advertising materials are
inset
within the delivered programming via screen-splitting technology.
[0006] A
similar approach was reported in a Forbes magazine article published
March 1, 2013 and titled: Watch Ads, Get Paid: Is This The Future Of Ad-
Supported
Content? (http ://www. forb es . com/sites/j j col ao/2013/03/01/watch-ads-get-
paid-is-this-the-
future-of-ad-supported-content/). In this article, a company is reported to
provide a pay-
per-view model in which customers may select to pay for each content item
directly, or
accumulate credits by previously viewing advertising content, which credits
can then be
used to purchase a content item for viewing.
[0007] In
US Patent Application Publication No. 2007/0107011, service level
differentiation in an IPTV delivery system is described, wherein subscribers
may choose
to pay lower or higher subscription fees for IPTV services in exchange for
being exposed
to less or more advertising content, respectively, or again to gain access to
value-added
content. In general, this technique allows a subscriber to select a payment
level at the
onset in exchange for different viewing privileges, in one case selecting the
amount of
advertising they will be exposed to.
[0008]
This background information is provided to reveal information believed by the
applicant to be of possible relevance. No admission is necessarily intended,
nor should be
construed, that any of the preceding information constitutes prior art.
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SUMMARY
[0009]
The following presents a simplified summary of the general inventive
concept(s) described herein to provide a basic understanding of some aspects
of the
invention. This summary is not an extensive overview of the invention. It is
not intended
to restrict key or critical elements of the invention or to delineate the
scope of the
invention beyond that which is explicitly or implicitly described by the
following
description and claims.
[0010] A
need exists for an Internet streaming content delivery system and method,
and advertising delivery method therefor, that overcome some of the drawbacks
of known
techniques, or at least, provides a useful alternative thereto. Some aspects
of this
disclosure provide examples of such systems and methods.
[0011] In
accordance with one aspect, there is provided a method for delivering
advertising content over an Internet streaming content delivery system, the
method
comprising: providing subscribers selective access, via a subscriber terminal,
to
programming content over an IP network in either of an original programming
content
stream and an embedded advertising programming content stream; receiving, from
a
given subscriber terminal, remote selection of given programming content in
either of
said original programming content stream and said embedded advertising
programming
content stream; in response to said remote selection being for said original
programming
content stream, streaming said given programming content to said given
subscriber
terminal in original format; in response to said remote selection being for
said
embedded advertising programming stream, streaming said given programming
content
to said given subscriber terminal in an embedded format, wherein the
advertising content
is embedded with said given programming content to be viewed streaming
concurrently
therewith; tracking viewing by said given subscriber of said embedded
advertising
programming stream over time; and incrementally allocating compensation
credits to an
account of said given subscriber as a function of said tracked viewing.
[0012] In
accordance with another aspect, there is provided An IPTV system for
delivering streaming content over a communication network for consumption by a
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plurality of subscribers via respective subscriber devices, the system
comprising: a
plurality of set top boxes each operable to interface with a respective
subscriber device; a
content management interface rendered via said set top boxes on each said
respective
subscriber device and providing subscribers selective access to programming
content
over the network in either of an original programming content stream and an
embedded
advertising programming content stream; a streaming server communicatively
linked to
said content management interface to receive a given subscriber selection from
a given
set top box, and stream a selected programming content thereto in a selected
one of said
original programming content stream and said embedded advertising programming
content stream in response thereto; an encoder embedding advertising content
with said
selected programming content prior to streaming by said streaming server to
said given
set top box, said embedded advertising encoded to be viewed streaming
concurrently with
said selected programming content; an account management system tracking
broadcast of
said embedded stream to said given set top box and allocating incremental
subscriber
credits to said given subscriber as a function thereof
[0013] In
accordance with another aspect, there is provided an Internet streaming
content delivery system comprising: means for providing users selective
access, via a
user terminal, to programming content over an IP network in either of an
original
programming content stream and an embedded advertising programming content
stream;
means for receiving, from a given user terminal, remote selection of given
programming
content in either of said original programming content stream and said
embedded
advertising programming content stream; means for streaming said given
programming
content to said given user terminal in an embedded format in response to said
remote
selection being for said embedded advertising programming stream; means for
embedding advertising content with said given programming content to be viewed
streaming concurrently therewith via said given user terminal; means for
tracking said
streaming in said embedded format over time to said given user terminal; and
means for
incrementally allocating user credits to a user of said given user terminal as
a function of
said tracked viewing.
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[0014] In
accordance with another aspect, there is provided a computer-readable
medium having statements and instructions stored thereon for implementation by
a
processor of a computing system to manage delivery of advertising content over
an
Internet streaming content delivery system by: providing subscribers selective
access, via
a subscriber terminal, to programming content over an IP network in either of
an original
programming content stream and an embedded advertising programming content
stream;
receiving, from a given subscriber terminal, remote selection of given
programming
content in either of said original programming content stream and said
embedded
advertising programming content stream; in response to said remote selection
being for
said original programming content stream, commanding streaming of said given
programming content to said given subscriber terminal in original format; in
response to
said remote selection being for said embedded advertising programming stream,
commanding streaming of said given programming content to said given
subscriber
terminal in an embedded format, wherein the advertising content is embedded
with said
given programming content to be viewed streaming concurrently therewith;
tracking
viewing by said given subscriber of said embedded advertising programming
stream over
time; and incrementally allocating compensation credits to an account of said
given
subscriber as a function of said tracked viewing.
[0015] In
accordance with another aspect, there is provided an Internet streaming
content delivery system comprising: a user interface to be rendered on a user
terminal in
providing users selective access to programming content over an IP network in
either of
an original programming content stream and an embedded advertising programming

content stream; an access management server in communication with said user
interface
to receive, from a given user terminal, remote selection of given programming
content in
either of said original programming content stream and said embedded
advertising
programming content stream; one or more streaming servers streaming said given

programming content to said given user terminal in an embedded format in
response to
said remote selection being for said embedded advertising programming stream;
one or
more encoders operatively coupled to said one or more streaming servers to
embed
advertising content with said given programming content to be viewed streaming
concurrently therewith via said given user terminal; a view tracker to track
said streaming
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in said embedded format over time to said given user terminal; and a user
account
interface to said tracker to incrementally allocate user credits to a user of
said given user
terminal as a function of said tracked viewing.
[0016] In
accordance with one aspect, the systems and methods described herein
overcome technical challenges in the provision and tracking of advertisement
viewings
by users of an internet streaming content delivery system.
[0017] In
accordance with another aspect, the systems and methods described herein
overcome technical challenges in providing alternative and/or flexible
subscriber
payment methods and devices for the provision of streaming content over
Internet.
[0018] Other aspects, features and/or advantages will become more apparent
upon
reading of the following non-restrictive description of specific embodiments
thereof,
given by way of example only with reference to the accompanying drawings.
BRIEF DESCRIPTION OF THE FIGURES
[0019] Several embodiments of the present disclosure will be provided, by
way of
examples only, with reference to the appended drawings, wherein:
[0020]
Figure 1 is a diagram of an Internet streaming content delivery system and
method, in accordance with one embodiment of the invention;
[0021]
Figure 2 is a diagram of an exemplary broadcasting management system, and
advertisement content stream allocation mechanism associated therewith, in
accordance
with one embodiment of the invention;
[0022]
Figures 3A and 3B provide, in combination, a process flow diagram for
operation of the system, such as those shown in Figures 1 and 2, in accordance
with one
embodiment of the invention; and
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[0023]
Figures 4A and 4B are diagrammatic screen shots of streaming original format
programming content and streaming embedded-advertising format programming
content,
in accordance with one embodiment of the invention.
DETAILED DESCRIPTION
[0024] The systems and methods described herein provide, in accordance with
different embodiments, different examples in which advertising content may be
delivered
to IPTV and/or WebTV subscribers (commonly referred to herein as Internet
streaming
content delivery system, or ISCD, subscribers), to be viewed concurrently with
streaming
programming contents, in exchange for compensation. For example, compensation
may
be provided in the form of a subscription fee reduction, wherein accumulated
advertisement viewing credits accumulated over a payment cycle or period are
applied
against a subscriber's next invoice or statement. In one such example, a
subscriber may
select, during a given viewing period, to receive concurrent broadcast of
advertising
materials with selected content, for example inset via a split-screen or
picture-in-picture
(PIP) broadcast, in exchange for compensation measured, in one example, as a
function
of a viewing period or duration. Accordingly, subscription fees may be
incrementally
lowered as a function of incremental increases in overall concurrent/embedded
advertising viewings. Where advertising viewing compensation exceeds a preset
subscription fee, the below described methods and systems, in some
embodiments, may
be configured to provide an automatic payment to the subscriber in the form of
cash or
redeemable rewards extrinsic to the ISCD system. Alternatively,
overcompensations may
be allocated to overall subscription fees for packaged telecommunication
services, for
example where an ISCD system subscription is packaged with in-home Internet
services,
home phone services such as VoIP, cellular phone services (e.g. applied to a
voice, data
or other such cellular service package), and the like.
[0025]
These and other applications will be described in greater detail below, in a
non-restrictive manner, with reference to the below description of exemplary
embodiments.
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[0026]
With reference now to Figure 1, and in accordance with one embodiment, an
example of an ISCD system 100 will now be described. The system 100 generally
comprises a broadcast management system or module 102, a subscriber management

system or module 104, and an advertising management system or module 106. The
broadcast management system 102 is generally configured to receive as input
streaming
content 108 sourced, for example, from an external content provider. As will
be discussed
with reference to Figure 2, streaming content may be received via a satellite
downlink or
a fiber optic link from an external live content provider, or again from a
local or external
content repository in providing access to stored content.
[0027] The streaming content 108 is fed to a set of encoders 110 (e.g.
encoding
engines and/or servers, etc.) configured to encode respective channels or
subchannels of
the streaming content 108 into a selected format appropriate for delivery over
an Internet
Protocol (IP) network 112, such as Internet. In this embodiment, and as will
be described
in greater detail below, each programming content stream is independently
encoded both
as an original format or full screen programming content stream (e.g. encoder
110A), and
as one or more embedded advertisement format (e.g. ad-split or nested screen)
programming content streams (e.g. encoder 110B). Accordingly, a subscriber may
select
to view the original/full screen version of the selected programming contents,
or select to
view an ad-split or nested screen version thereof in return for incremental
compensation,
such as incremental credits applied to their account (e.g. based on ad viewing
time and
associated rates).
[0028]
Each encoded content stream is then fed to one or more streaming servers 114
to be broadcast to respective subscriber terminals 116 over the IP network
112. In one
embodiment, as will be described in greater detail below, respective original
and
embedded content streams 118, 136 are provided via unicast broadcasting in
pushing a
dedicated content stream to each active subscriber via a respective subscriber
IP address,
which also facilitates real-time viewership tracking given the one-to-one
nature of unicast
broadcasting. In such embodiments, up to four thousand viewers can be serviced
by a
single streaming server 114. In another embodiment, multicast broadcasting may
be
employed, whereby multiple copies of a same content stream are
indiscriminately made
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accessible to a group of subscribers via a common TCP/IP port. In multicast
embodiments, a single streaming server may advantageously service up to twenty

thousand viewers, however, at least part of the viewership tracking function
must be
transferred to the subscriber terminal 116, for example via an application
running thereon
or operated in association therewith.
[0029]
Examples of subscriber terminals 116 may include, but are not limited to,
traditional television sets 119 having an associated IPTV STB 120, IPTV-
compliant
television sets (not shown), smartphones 122 such as iPhoneTM, BlackberryTM or
Android
TM devices, laptops 124 or traditional desktop computers, tablets (not shown)
and the like.
[0030] The system's advertising management system or module 106 generally
comprises an advertiser interface 126, such as a Web interface, to provide
advertisers
access via respective advertiser terminals 128 (e.g. web-enabled computing
device such
as laptop or desktop computer, tablet, smartphone, etc.), to an advertising
management
platform in which advertising placements and timeslots can be purchased, and
accounts
associated therewith, managed. For example, an advertiser may access the
system 106 via
interface 126 to upload advertising contents for storage in advertising
content database
130, and select advertising targets (e.g. timeslots, channels, demographics,
etc.) to be
associated therewith. The interface 126 further enables advertisers to manage
their
accounts, for example stored within accounts management database 132, with the
broadcaster. For instance, funds may be transferred electronically via the
interface 126 so
to set an initial advertising campaign budget or replenish funds to be
allocated to the
broadcaster for specific ad placements and/or subscriber views over a
dedicated time
period.
[0031]
The ad contents and targets can then be managed through a programming
content stream allocation engine 134 in associating specific ad contents with
selected
programming streams based on identified targets, and/or based on one or more
competitive advertisement placement processes whereby different advertisers
compete
for coveted advertisement placements. Upon allocation with respective content
streams
by engine 134, ad contents (e.g. static images, text and/or frames in jpg or
.gif formats)
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are fed through corresponding encoders 110 (e.g. encoder 110B) concurrently
with their
allocated stream to be embedded therein, for example, in the form of ad
banners, ribbons,
tabs, picture-in-picture (PIP), watermarks, or the like. In one example,
selected ad content
is provided in the form of an image, and sequentially embedded within multiple
programming content frames to provide a static ribbon or banner partially
circumscribing
each frame for a preset ad duration (e.g. 6 seconds) or throughout a given
program. Other
embedding examples will be appreciated by the person of ordinary skill in the
art, and are
therefore intended to fall within the scope of the present disclosure. Ads-
free streams on
the other hand, are processed independently (e.g. via encoder 110A) and are
thus devoid
of embedded ad contents, as introduced above and as will be discussed in
greater detail
below.
[0032] In
one embodiment, each encoder consists of an open source encoding
engine/server, such as VLC (VideoLAN Organization), that merges a selected
content
stream with its allocated ad content in generating an embedded stream 136 for
broadcast.
Using this approach, the embedded stream cannot be readily separated or
altered by the
subscriber, thus ensuring ad contents are displayed as originally intended
during the
encoding process. In one such example, each encoder provides h.264 encoding
over an
mpeg4 carrier, thought it will be appreciated that other standards, such as
mpeg2 and the
like, may also be considered without departing from the general scope and
nature of the
present disclosure. Different stream allocation techniques for allocating ad
contents to
different content channels based on content, demographics and/or geography, to
name a
few, will be described further below with reference to Figure 2.
[0033] The subscriber management system or module 104 comprises a
subscriber/content management interface 138, such as for example, a Web
interface
accessible through a standard Web browser (WebTV), or again a dedicated IPTV
or
WebTV interface rendered via an IPTV STB 120 or dedicated ISCD application
running
on other types of subscriber terminals 116. The subscriber interface 138 is
configured to
confirm the subscription status of the user (e.g. automatically and/or via a
standard login
process) with a database of subscriber accounts 140, receive selection of
desired
programming content from active subscribers, and communicate this selection to
the

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streaming server(s) 114, which, in this embodiment (unicast broadcasting),
routes
selected contents to the subscribers' respective IP addresses for viewing.
Subscriber
content selections can be tracked via the subscriber interface 138 and/or
streaming
server(s) 114, and embedded ads thereby viewed by the subscriber
illustratively tracked
by tracker 142. Namely, by tracking the particular content stream viewed by
the
subscriber over time, the tracker 142, in one embodiment consisting of a call
video
recorder (CVR) or the like, can not only monitor advertising fees to be drawn
from the
advertisers' accounts 132 based on actual viewership, but also track ad views
by the
subscriber to apply a corresponding credit to the subscriber's account 140.
For example, a
subscriber ad view credit rate (e.g. amount per hour or 10 minute slice) may
be associated
with each ad placement (e.g. based on a preset percentage of an adverting fee
rate, or a
preset rate) such that, as the subscriber views a selected advertisement-
enhanced content
stream over time, ad-viewing credits are incrementally applied to their
account in
accordance with the prescribed credit rate associated with this stream. As
will be
appreciated by the skilled artisan, while the application of a view tracker is
not as readily
achievable at the head end for multicast broadcasting, a dedicated ISCD
application or
STB function may be configured to periodically report back viewership data to
the
subscriber management system (e.g. every few minutes) in providing similar
results.
[0034]
Referring now to Figure 2, and in accordance with one illustrative
embodiment of the invention, an exemplary broadcasting management head end
system,
and advertisement content stream allocation mechanism associated therewith,
will now be
described. In this embodiment, the management head end system 202 is again
generally
configured to receive as input streaming content 208 sourced, for example,
from an
external content provider. For example, content 208 may be received and
managed by a
streaming content management server 209, and sourced from a satellite downlink
250
(e.g. form a broadcasting station or channel), over the Web 252, or again from
a local or
remote storage device 254 (e.g. stored content, such as video-on-demand (VoD)
content).
[0035]
The streaming content 208 is fed to a set of encoders 210 (e.g. encoding
engines and/or servers, etc.) configured to encode respective channels or
subchannels of
the streaming content 208 into a selected format appropriate for delivery over
an Internet
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Protocol (IP) network 212, such as Internet. As introduced above, each
programming
content stream or channel is independently encoded both as an original format
or full
screen programming stream (e.g. streams CH1F, CH2F and CH3F respectively
produced
via encoders CH1, FULL; CH2, FULL; and CH3, FULL), and as one or more embedded
advertisement (e.g. ad-split) streams (e.g. streams CH1R1; CH1R2; CH2A; CH3D1;
CH3D2 respectively produced via encoders CH1, REGION 1; CH1, REGION 2; CH2,
ALL; CH3, DEMOG.1; CH3, DEMOG.2). Accordingly, a subscriber may select to view

the full screen version of the selected programming contents, or select to
view an ad-split
screen version thereof in return for incremental compensation credits to be
applied to
their account as a function of incremental ad viewing time and an ad viewing
credit rate
associate therewith.
[0036] In
this example, different ad-split streams are generated as a function of
selected streaming channels, subscriber geography and demographics. For
example,
advertisers in this embodiment, upon uploading ad contents to the ad content
database
230, also set advertising targets (e.g. in the context of a customized
advertising
campaign) to be managed by a stream allocation engine 234 in embedding ad
contents to
appropriate content streams. In this particular example, ad content 260 is
allocated to the
channel 1 stream for subscribers located in region 1 and thus fed to encoder
CH1,
REGION1 to produce embedded content stream CH1R1, whereas ad content 262 is
allocated to the channel 1 stream for subscribers located in region 2 and thus
fed to
encoder CH1, REGION2 to produce embedded content stream CH1R2. Similarly, ad
content 264 is allocated to the channel 2 stream for all subscribers and thus
fed to encoder
CH2, ALL to produce embedded content stream CH2A, and also allocated to the
channel
3 stream for subscribers satisfying a first set of demographic criteria only,
i.e. fed to
encoder CH3, DEMOG.1 to produce embedded content stream CH3D1. Finally, ad
content 266 is allocated to the channel 3 stream for subscribers satisfying a
second set of
demographic criteria (or again for all "other" demographics) and fed to
encoder CH3,
DEMOG.2 to produce embedded content stream CH3D2.
[0037]
Each encoded full screen and ad-split stream is then fed to one or more
streaming servers 214 for broadcast over IP network 212. Depending on the
subscriber's
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location (e.g. accessed via the subscriber's IP address and/or account
settings),
demographics (e.g. accessed via the subscriber's account settings, history
and/or viewing
habits), and content selection, targeted advertising may be delivered thereto
via an
embedded stream, generating both advertising revenue for the broadcaster and
incremental subscription credits for the subscriber, and providing a targeted
reach for
advertisers.
[0038] As
will be appreciated by the skilled artisan, the illustrated embodiment of
Figure 2 is provided as an example only, as other ad content allocation and
encoding
techniques may also be applied to achieve similar results. Namely, the
different examples
shown in Figure 2 are provided for illustrative purposes only, and should not
be
considered as limiting to the diversity of encoding and allocation schemes
available
within the present context.
[0039]
Referring now to Figures 3A and 3B, and in accordance with one
embodiment, a process flow diagram for operating exemplary embodiments of the
systems of Figures 1 and 2, will now be described. In this embodiment,
interactions
between the advertiser terminal 328, advertisement management system 306,
broadcast
management system 302, subscriber management system 304 and subscriber
terminal 316
are presented in one illustrative sequence, though it will be appreciated that
other
sequences, as can other features and functions be considered without departing
from the
general scope and nature of the present disclosure. Further, while certain
actions and
functions are generically associated with different components of the system
in the
illustrated embodiment, these or similar functions may be implemented by other

components of the system, or shared therebetween in providing similar results.
These and
other such considerations are therefor considered to fall within the scope of
the present
disclosure.
[0040] In
this embodiment, the advertiser terminal 328 requests access to the
advertisement management system 306 at step 310, which performs advertiser
authentication at step 312 (which may include the generation of a new account
and/or
authentication of an existing account). Upon authentication, the advertiser
terminal 328,
13

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in this example, is first directed to an advertiser account interface at step
314, though
which a funds transfer to the broadcaster can be coordinated at step 318 and
executed at
step 320 to support a new or ongoing advertising campaign. In other
embodiments, the
account interface may alternatively be accessed only once the campaign has
been
designed and an appropriate advertising fee has been set, or again available
as an option
throughout the campaign design process.
[0041]
Once the funds transfer has been confirmed at step 322, the advertiser is
provided access to an advertisement (i.e. ad campaign) management interface
324. Using
this interface, the advertiser may select and upload ad contents and targets
at step 326 in
defining a particular ad campaign to be implemented by the broadcaster with
its
subscribers. Contents (e.g. images, frames, watermarks, symbols, logos, text,
etc.) and
target inputs (e.g. demographics, programming contents, geographic settings
such as
postal/zip/area codes, etc.) are uploaded to the system 306 at step 330 to
update the ad
content database and configure the channel allocation engine at step 332 to
implement the
newly created or updated ad campaign.
[0042]
From the perspective now of the subscriber using subscriber terminal 316, the
subscriber requests access at step 334 to the subscriber management system 304
(e.g. via
stored or input login credentials, or again automatically via activation of a
client
application interface), which confirms subscription credentials (e.g. username
and
password, client IP address, client device ID, etc.) at step 336, and allows
the subscriber
access at step 338 to a ISCD interface. Using this interface, the subscriber
may select
particular programming content (e.g. select particular channel, item from a
programming
schedule or grid, stored VoD programming, etc.) at step 340, which selection
also
confirms whether such programming content is to be viewed in full screen
format, or in
an ad-split-screen format in exchange for subscription fee credits.
[0043]
The content selection is communicated to the broadcast management system
302 at step 342 (directly or via subscriber management system 304), and the
selected
programming content accessed accordingly at step 344 for broadcast. In the
event that the
subscriber selection is directed to the full screen format of the content
(e.g. where a paid-
14

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to-view option is not selected), the full screen stream of the selected
content is accessed
at step 346 by the broadcast system 302 and streamed at step 348 to the
subscriber
terminal 316, from which the content can be viewed at step 352. Optionally,
content
viewing by the subscriber can be concurrently tracked (e.g. in real-time) at
step 350 (e.g.
for billing or reporting purposes, etc.).
[0044] On
the other hand, where a paid-to-view option has been selected by the
subscriber, the process proceeds through connectors (A) of Figures 3A and 3B,
whereby
the broadcasting system 302 proceeds to access the selected programming stream
at step
354, and concurrently access relevant ad content from the allocation engine to
produce
the selected embedded split-screen content stream. To do so, the particular
content stream
is identified to the ad management system 306 (or stream allocation engine
thereof) at
step 356, optionally along with geographic and/or demographic information
relevant to
ad content selection, from which corresponding ad content is identified and
allocated to
the identified stream at step 358. The allocated ad content is fed to a
corresponding
encoder of the broadcast management system 302 at step 360, and embedded
within the
selected programming stream during encoding step 362. The ad-split content is
then
streamed to the subscriber terminal 316 at step 364 for viewing. While the
above
contemplates an on-demand encoding process, the system may rather
automatically
encode the whole set of available original format and embedded format content
streams
irrespective of demand, and stream appropriate contents to subscribers upon
selection.
This may be particularly relevant where encoding engines or servers are
designated for
subscribers in certain geographical areas and/or satisfying certain
demographics, and can
therefore be operated irrespective of demand for the ready upon subscriber
selection.
[0045] At
step 368, ad viewing is tracked (e.g. via a video call recorder) as concurrent
subscription fee credits are incrementally accumulated in favor of the
subscriber. When
the subscriber ceases to view the ad-split content at step 370, or again upon
the subscriber
making another ad-view content selection, accumulated credits are applied to
the
subscriber's account at step 372, and made accessible to the subscriber at
step 374 for
viewing at step 376. Alternatively, ad-view credits may be applied in real-
time while
viewing in ongoing.

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[0046] In
parallel, ad viewing times (and optionally viewership demographics and/or
geography) are reported to the ad management system 306 at step 378, which
report is
used to update the advertiser's accounts at step 380 and draw funds therefrom
accordingly as ad revenues to the broadcaster. The advertiser is updated
periodically or in
real-time at step 382, for example in the form of an advertising campaign
results
summary, at which point additional funds may be requested to supplement an
ongoing
campaign, or in the formation of a new campaign. The advertiser receives the
update
and/or fund request at step 384, and repeats the process from step 318.
[0047]
Using the above-described process and alternatives thereto, subscribers are
provided direct access to programming content with the option of viewing such
programing content in a full screen or ad-split-screen format. Where a full
screen format
is selected, viewing permissions and subscription fees associated therewith
are applied as
per the subscriber's original service contract agreement. On the other hand,
where a
subscriber selects to view the same content with embedded advertising
concurrently
displayed therewith during the regular course of the streaming programming
content,
subscription fee credits may be incrementally accumulated and applied to the
subscriber's
account, or again paid back directly to the subscriber. Where the ISCD system
is
provided to the subscriber in the context of a multiple service subscription
package (e.g.
in combination with Internet (DSL/cable) access, telephone services (e.g.
VolP), etc.),
subscription credits may be applied to the subscription package as a whole,
thereby
effectively allowing subscribers to save on the associated services by
watching more
concurrent embedded ad content with their selected programming content.
[0048]
Figures 4A and 4B provide comparative exemplary screen shots as viewed by
a subscriber, in accordance with one embodiment of the invention. In Figure
4A, the
subscriber has selected a full screen format, and is thus provided with
streaming contents
in full screen (i.e. without adds), in accordance with the terms of his
subscription
agreement. In Figure 4B, the subscriber has selected to view embedded ad
content
concurrently with regular programming content, in the form of banner or ribbon
ads. In
this example, the programming content is streamed unobstructed in one frame,
with a
fixed advertisement ribbon and rolling advertisement banner embedded in
adjacent
16

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frames. Given the embedded nature of this advertising campaign, a subscriber
may not
readily alter his viewing experience to block or otherwise extract the ad
content, and is
thus committed to viewing the ad content.
[0049] An
ad viewing credit rate is also displayed embedded within the stream as an
indication to the subscriber as to the rate at which subscription credits may
be
accumulated for this particular content selection. Accordingly, a subscriber
may decide
that, for certain content selections, ad viewing credits are not particularly
beneficial and
switch back to a full screen format. This subscriber could nonetheless receive
credit for
the time spent watching the ad-split format even if the entire programming
content was
not viewed in that format. Similarly, a subscriber may choose to view high-
return ad-split
programming in offsetting heavy subscription fees. Along those lines,
advertisers may be
inclined to increase ad spending to attract a larger viewership.
[0050]
Furthermore, as discussed above, using geographic and/or demographic data
to target ad placements, subscribers may be subject to more relevant ad
placements, while
advertisers may gain access to a more relevant subscriber pool. For example,
local
advertising may be more readily applied to national broadcasts, whereby each
local
advertiser may commit to a reduced advertising fee in exchange for limited
local
viewership.
[0051] In
one embodiment, subscriber selection as to the viewing of embedded ad
contents is made centrally via a dedicated switch (e.g. software/firmware
selection on the
subscriber interface). In other embodiments, the broadcasting system may be
preconfigured to provide programming on distinct streaming channel sets,
wherein a first
set of channels is designated for full screen or original format viewing,
whereas a second
corresponding set of channels is designated for split screen viewing. For
example, all
programming streaming on channel 107 could be designated for full screen
viewing,
whereas programming streaming on channel 507 could be designated for split-
screen or
embedded advertising viewing. Accordingly, a subscriber need only select
between
channel sets to make a selection as to whether they wish to watch embedded add
contents
and receive accumulating credits, or if they would rather watch the full
screen version of
17

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selected programming. Similarly, since channels for the same programming
content are
recognizably associated with one another, selection of one or the other is
facilitated when
seeking a specific counterpart to a given channel selection. In the same vein,
a subscriber
could selectively switch between streams mid-program or between programs,
while still
receiving corresponding credits for time when tuned into the split screen
stream.
[0052] In
one embodiment, the system is also configured to probe the viewer during
programming and/or track user activity to ensure programming, and embedded
advertising, is being watched and not simply left to stream unattended in
accumulating
subscription credits. This may be implemented by tracking subscriber actions
via a
remote control, peripheral or touch screen interface of the subscriber
terminal, or again
periodically probing for subscriber action to confirm viewership. Such actions
may also
be automatically processed to discriminate between human actions and those
more likely
associated with an automated engine run to mimic subscriber actions and thus
tamper
with the ad view benefits system.
[0053] While the present disclosure describes various exemplary
embodiments, the
disclosure is not so limited. To the contrary, the disclosure is intended to
cover various
modifications and equivalent arrangements included within the general scope of
the
present disclosure.
18

A single figure which represents the drawing illustrating the invention.

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Admin Status

Title Date
Forecasted Issue Date Unavailable
(86) PCT Filing Date 2014-07-02
(87) PCT Publication Date 2015-01-15
(85) National Entry 2016-01-11
Dead Application 2019-07-03

Abandonment History

Abandonment Date Reason Reinstatement Date
2018-07-03 FAILURE TO PAY APPLICATION MAINTENANCE FEE
2019-02-04 FAILURE TO RESPOND TO OFFICE LETTER
2019-07-02 FAILURE TO REQUEST EXAMINATION

Payment History

Fee Type Anniversary Year Due Date Amount Paid Paid Date
Registration of a document - section 124 $100.00 2016-01-11
Application Fee $400.00 2016-01-11
Maintenance Fee - Application - New Act 2 2016-07-04 $100.00 2016-06-15
Maintenance Fee - Application - New Act 3 2017-07-04 $100.00 2017-06-30
Current owners on record shown in alphabetical order.
Current Owners on Record
INVESTEL CAPITAL CORPORATION
Past owners on record shown in alphabetical order.
Past Owners on Record
None
Past Owners that do not appear in the "Owners on Record" listing will appear in other documentation within the application.

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Abstract 2016-01-11 1 65
Claims 2016-01-11 6 240
Drawings 2016-01-11 5 114
Description 2016-01-11 18 939
Representative Drawing 2016-01-11 1 26
Cover Page 2016-04-11 2 51
Patent Cooperation Treaty (PCT) 2016-01-11 1 39
International Preliminary Report Received 2016-01-11 5 210
International Search Report 2016-01-11 3 93
National Entry Request 2016-01-11 8 275
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